[NL/RO] Nederlandse Spoorwegen sells (almost) all its ‘Buffalos’ to Romania

After 20 years the Dutch Railways (NS) sell their final diesel train series DM’90 to Romanian operator Ferotrans-TFI.

Early December 2017 Keolis Nederland took over operations on the Zwolle-Kampen and Zwolle-Enschede lines introducing electric Stadler FLIRT trains. Both lines have been electrified the past years. As other diesel train operated lines are run by other operators with more lightweight trains, NS has no further need for the diesel powered DM’90 trains.

Photo: Henk Zwoferink


A fleet of 53 DM’90 trains was built by Talbot, Duewag and SIG between 1996 and 1998 after being ordered by NS in 1993. Due to tendering of regional railway services, new operators and the introduction of lighter vehicles, the trains were suppressed quickly. Syntus and Noordned, partly owned NS in those days, used them for a while. The trains, numbered in series 3401-3453, were officially nicknamed ‘Buffel’ (Dutch for ‘Buffalo’).

Technical data

  • maximum speed:  140km/h
  • seating capacity:  123 standard class,12 first seats & 34 folding seats
  • Engine power: 2x 430hp (Cummins) 
Photo: Henk Zwoferink

To allow a comfortable 3+2 seating arrangement the DM’90s got a width of 3,2 m at elbow height, just below the windows. This is 0,30 m wider than conventional trains, within the loading gauge and explains the bent sidewalls. This profile was shared with the electric SM’90 trains. Eventually the DM’90s never had the mention 3+2 seating arrangement, they were delivery with a 2+2 seating arrangement.  Compered to the very squarish SM’90 cab the outer cab design of the DM’90 had a more modern look.

The DM’90 could be coupled with the DH1 (Class 3100) and DH2 (Class 3200) diesel hydraulic trains, nicknamed ‘ Wadloper’ and also Duewag products, but the maximum speed was lowered to 100 km/h while driving combined.

NSFS 3424 as test train – Photo: Henk Zwoferink

Dutch Diesels in Romania

Romanian operator Ferotrans-TFI will purchase 48 2-car DM’90 trains from NS. Before operating the DM’90s, Romanian Electroputere will overhaul them at their Pascani plant. The trains have to be commissioned for the Romanian rail network. Ferotrans-TFI plans to use the DM’90s starting this summer on several routes including the Bucharest-Iasi line.

The Buffalos are not the first Dutch trains leaving for Romania. Several yellow DH-2 ‘Wadloper’ trains went to Romanian operator Trans Feroviar Calatori (TFC) in  December 2011 and turned red. The original NS numbers were even incorporated in the Romanian TFC numbering scheme. The NS 3210 became the TFC 78-3210-8.

DM’90s not going to Romania

The ‘Buffalo’ 3426 won’t go to Romania, as it is designated to be transferred to the Dutch national railway museum called ‘Spoorwegmuseum’.

In 2003 the DM’90 number 3405 collided head-on with a Class 66 of former Dutch freight operator Shortlines in Roermond. The DM’90 driver was killed, 7 persons were seriously and 30 slightly injured. The Class 66 looks almost unharmed, the DM’90 was heavily compressed at the front. The collided carriage, containing the First Class, was scrapped in December 2006. The other carriage was used for spare parts and scrapped in September 2014.

Train set 3424 was modified in 2014 for testing smooth rail treatment with laser technology. This set and two others (3403 & 3409), that have been used for spare parts, are designated to be scrapped.

VolkerRail 203-1 + NSFS 3432 + 3428 + 3434 + 3430 at Rijssen on 06.05.2013 – Photo: Henk Zwoferink